- The Washington Times - Monday, February 18, 2008

The following are excerpts of a sermon preached Feb. 3 by the Rev. Steven Markle, pastor of Life Community Church:

I love new technology. Some of the best new technology in last 15 to 20 years has been the Internet, cell phones, GPS, DVR and caller ID. I have to admit that I absolutely love caller ID. I think we all love the ability to screen our calls. We all probably have certain callers we avoid when we aren’t in the mood. Well, I have a question for you today: What if your phone rang and you looked down and saw “God” on the Caller ID? What if it said “Jehovah” or “King of Kings?” Would you answer that call?

Today, we are talking about a call from God. This is a call from God to Abraham, a specific call on his life that overflows with application to our lives and our need to answer His call on us.

Sometimes it may seem easy to say ‘yes’ to God. If He says, “I want you to marry a certain beautiful woman and share your life with her,” we’ve got no problem saying yes.

But sometimes it’s not so easy to say yes to God. What if God says, “I want you to give up your vacation and go on a short-term missions trip”? We might believe in missions, but … give up my vacation?

I believe the best place to start with Abraham is where we all started out at one time or another, with God’s call on our life. What does that mean? All of us have a calling in our lives. God is calling all of us to something. But some of us are having a hard time today with God’s call on our lives because we feel God must be making a mistake. “Me? No way. I’ve done this and that. I can’t do this or that. I’m not good at this or that.” Today, as we look at Abraham’s call, I’m going to share with you four keys to understanding the call of God.

1. The first key to understanding God’s call is realizing that the call is not all about you.

Who was Abraham? What do we know about him? He was the son of Terah. His family worshipped idols. Abraham probably was a part of this worship. He doesn’t sound like someone who’d become the father of a great nation, does he?

That is how God works. He does not call us based on who or what we are, but rather on who He is going to make us into. We read nothing about Abraham that made him stand out. There is nothing good about him that made God choose him. The same is true for us today. There is nothing good in us that causes God to love us. There is nothing in us that makes us worthy of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. There is nothing about me that I should be here today preaching. Nothing within me that is good, except which God has done in me.

God’s call on our life means that He desires to call us, as we are, where we are, and begin to lead us to the place He desires us to be and to become all that He wants to make us. In Genesis 12:1, the Bible says “The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you.’ ”

God wants to take you and I from someplace to someplace. He wants to take you from where you are to a place in life He will show you. He won’t include all the details, but the call still comes. Details aren’t needed in God’s call because, remember, it’s not about you, but all about God and His calling on your life.

2. The second key to understanding God’s call is accepting that it will require sacrifice.

Anytime we are going to follow the call of God, it will require a separation from something. In Abraham’s case, it was a separation from his past. This was not going to be easy. When God calls Abraham, there is a command to leave all that is familiar. Look at verse 1 again: “The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you.’ ”

Can you see the sacrifice Abram was about to make? God is about to remove Abraham from his comfort zones. He is about to move from his idolatrous surroundings. God will take Abraham away from all that would be a hindrance to him becoming the father of a great nation.

If you and I are going to truly pursue the call of God on our lives, we must be willing to give up those things that will not move us toward fulfilling that call. What are those things in your life? Jesus said we must deny ourself, pick up our cross and follow him. You may be feeling like you have blown it. You have stopped short of what God has called you to do, and you feel it is too late. No, it’s not! If God has called you to do something, press on with it.

How many of us honestly have a hard time separating from our past in pursuit of God’s call on our life? We get hung up somewhere along the way. We begin to cling to our roots, and the problem is that our roots are usually what God is calling us away from. We want to remain in our environment, which is the very thing God is calling us out of.

Remember this: He won’t give up on you. As it says in Philippians 1:6, “God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished.”

Following the call of God, fulfilling the call of God on your life, does require sacrifice. Yes, you will give up certain aspects of life as you knew it when you lived a life separated from God, but God’s call also comes with certain promises for those who will answer the call.

3. The third key to understanding God’s call is receiving all the promises that come with it.

Look at the promises given from God to Abraham in Genesis 12:2-3. “I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.”

God makes some amazing promises to Abraham. He’s going to make him into a great nation. He’s going to bless him. He’s going to make him famous. He’s going to make him a blessing to others. He promises protection. He promises that the entire earth would be blessed through him. Is that not incredible?

We need to understand this truth: God will bless those who answer His call in their lives. Abram could have questioned God: “What if I get out of your will or misunderstand you?”; “What if my descendants worship idols?”; “What if I find myself in a famine and have to go to Egypt for food?”

When God calls us today, we can question God in the same way: “What if I mess up after I start following God?”

But God promises: “I will finish the work I started in you.”

“What if the cost is too great?”

But God reminds us: “I gave my Son for your eternal salvation. No cost is too great.”

“What if I lack faith?”

But God says: “I have done it before, and I will do it again.”

Remember, the call is based on who God is, not who we are. I cannot hold my own salvation. I’d lose it. God holds my salvation secure. God maintains the calling on my life. My responsibility is to follow Him with a childlike faith.

4. This fourth key to understanding the call of God is being willing to follow Him in blind faith.

In Genesis 12:4, we read, “So Abram departed as the Lord had instructed.” Did Abraham know where he was going? No. All God says is: “A land that I will show you.”

Do you remember getting in the car as a young child with no idea where your parents were taking you? You had faith in them. You trusted them. You found out when you got there. Sometimes, that is the way it is with the call of God. He doesn’t give us all the details upfront. We simply have to follow what we know He wants us to do.

Abraham was going to become a great nation. Well, how would this happen? He and his wife, Sarah, had no children. In Genesis 11:30, we read: “But Sarai was unable to become pregnant and had no children.” Why is that information there? God put that verse there to illustrate the faith it took for Abraham to get up and go.

Abraham was just beginning his journey of following God. There would be mistakes he would make, and we are going to look at them in the upcoming weeks of this series. But today, I want you to see that Abraham went forth on blind faith. He simply trusted and obeyed God just because He said so.

So what is God is calling you to today? God is calling some of you to salvation. Some of you need to make a personal commitment to Christ today. God is calling some of you to serve. Some of you need to start using your talents and abilities to serve others. God may be calling some of you out of an addiction. You may feel trapped by drugs, alcohol or pornography, but God is calling you out of this into a better way of living.

Your phone is ringing. You check the caller ID. It’s God. Will you answer?

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